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Gary350
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Best way to compost and the reason Why.

I have experimented with many different types composts in the past 45 years some work much better than others and there is a reason why.

Heat makes organic material compost faster. Keep your compost bends painted flat black in full sun all day. Wrap your wooden compost bend in black plastic. Put a sheet of black plastic over a compost pile. Full sun makes it get hot.

Wood ash contains lye, lime and other minerals. Lye speeds up the compost action and lime prevents blossom end rot in, tomatoes, squash, melons, bell peppers and it good of other plants too.

Urine contains lime and other minerals. Urine turns to ammonia in a few days then nitrogen fertilizer a few days later. Don't flush your best fertilizer down the toilet.

My best compost bend is a 55 gallon metal barrel painted flat black with both ends cut out setting in full sun next to the garden. It has a black lid too. I lift the lid and pee in it about 10 times every day. Lifting the lid 10 times a day gives the compost oxygen too. Keep a container in your bathroom to pee in then take it to the compost. Worms come up from the soil into the compost and it fills up with 1000s of worms. A full compost barrel will be completely composted in 30 days in the summer. You do not want an air tight lid, a flat black piece of plywood that is not perfect flat works good.

Turn the barrel over then rake the compost into the garden. Refill the barrel again do another 30 day compost. I like to rake compost into the soil around the tomatoes and bell peppers. It is excellent for corn too because this compost is full with nitrogen, potash, lime and minerals.

Watch the video.



If you do not burn wood at home go to a local camp ground and get free wood ash from the burn pits.

In the winter keep your compost in plastic bags in the house or garage. Mix in wood ash and Pee in each bag 10 times each day for a week. Even if the compost bag is only 50 degrees in the garage that is better than 25 degrees in the yard. It will be ready to use by garden season.

I compost anything organic, grass, leaves, SMALL sticks, egg shells, coffee grounds. No cardboard of paper it is full of glue and will not compost in 30 days. Be careful not to get too much green plants it contains too much water your compost will turn into a sticky mess of glue. You need plenty of air circulation with a lid that let is air not rain and good drainage to the soil. Make sure you have enough dry material for air and liquid to flow through the compost mixture, you don't need any green material at all but if you do no more than 10% green stuff, too much green turns to wet mush. Every time you add pee that adds lots of water, 100% dry brown material works very good. If you have to much green stuff let it dry in the sun before it goes into the compost. Urine is taking the place of green stuff in the compost and the extra nitrogen is speeding up the composting process.
Last edited by Gary350 on Sat Mar 26, 2016 6:26 pm, edited 2 times in total.

Mr green
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Re: Best way to compost and the reason Why.

When you add the pee your adding the greens, i think this is why you have come to the conclusion works better with 10% greens. But the yellow liquid needs to be counted for. Pee can be an amazing product, but people on meds or have heavilly polluted bodies should be cautious.

You have any holes in your bins or is it mainly an anaerobic composting process? It seems like something in between almost.
Nature does not hurry, yet everything is accomplished - Lao Tzu

toxcrusadr
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Re: Best way to compost and the reason Why.

Some of these recommendations may work for you but not necessarily for others, and there are caveats to watch out for in addition to those posted by Mr green (particularly regarding ash and lime - get a soil test and know your pH before liming your soil!).

Mainly you are trying to make compost very fast, which not everyone needs to do.

Personally I would never try to make compost in a plastic bag especially inside my house. Just asking for a slimy stinky mess. I am in favor of recycling urine but in an outdoor bin. An outdoor bin or pile is just fine, even over the winter - I add kitchen scraps all winter to my bin and cover with a layer of fall leaves. It does not compost rapidly over winter but by early spring I can turn it and by early summer I have a batch.

I made a bin out of a metal drum once and it rusted in nothing flat. Later I learned that a highly active microbial environment with air and moisture would be expected to do exactly that. I recommend plastic bins, pallet bins or just a pile.

'Green plants' are in fact what most people are trying to compost, so one just has to have enough browns. Fall leaves, straw, sawdust, shredded paper, cardboard. BTW cardboard may not compost in 30 days but who cares. If you have several batches going one after the other, you're always close to having compost. Intensive composting is only necessary when you're trying to amend a whole yard in a hurry. Been there and done that - collecting grass clippings and leaf bags off the curb. Now I just compost what my yard and kitchen produce and it's enough to maintain.
Tox

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Gary350
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Re: Best way to compost and the reason Why.

toxcrusadr wrote:
Mainly you are trying to make compost very fast, which not everyone needs to do.
I am trying to do what works best like mother nature. I was reading online how cities all over the USA have trucks that drive all over town to pick up tree leaves, brush, tree limbs, cut down tree, organic material of all kinds then take it to a city owned compose area where they grind it into small pieces then bulldoze it into very large piles big as a house. These large piles generate their own heat even in winter when covered with 6 feet of snow. The heat causes the organic material to compose very quick. The information says, these type compose lacks nitrogen and minerals so the user needs to add fertilizer and lime for good plant growth.

I don't have large quantities of compose so the best i can do is take advantage of the sun heat in a black container and add my own nitrogen and lime. This works in the winter too.

One winter i decided to save my tree leaves in plastic bags to use in spring. If I put the leaves in the compose they are a wet pile for many years. I mowed the leaves with the lawn mower this reduced the volume about 95% and chopped the leaves into small pieces. I raked all my leaves into plastic bags. I put a hand full of lime and hand full of nitrogen fertilizer in each bag and tied it shut then put it in the garage. Garage is not heated but it is always a little bit warmer than outside. 6 months later i dumped the bags in the garden to my surprise the leaves were composted all ready. Maybe a shed, green house or out build would work too?

The same year i put those leaves in the bags I did a 5 gallon compose too. White bucket, a little lime, peed in it a few times, put on a lid then put it in the corner of the garage and forgot it was there. Spring came i was cleaning out the garage and wondered what is in that white bucket, when i looked I remembered, OH.....that is a compose. It was composted too.

If I dump my tiny amount of organic material in a pile in the yard it does basically nothing. It just stays a pile all summer and next spring it is a wet pile of organic material. Even in a compose bend it is too small it stays a pile of organic material for years.

I had my fun experimenting, i don't do compose anymore, too much work. Now I mow all the organic material and use the lawn mower to blow it into the garden. Then it gets tilled into the soil. I am not using my wood stove anymore either I buy pellet lime at farmers Coop.

toxcrusadr
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Re: Best way to compost and the reason Why.

Actually your last point is a great idea - adding organic material right onto the soil rather than composting first. Turns out that the decomposition process itself is highly beneficial to soil and plants, so decomposable mulches are great for the garden.

I have no doubt your technique of adding fertilizer to leaves does create compost, and faster than leaves would decompose on their own. Gardeners who prefer not to buy fertilizer for this can simply stockpile fall leaves until spring and mix them with grass clippings or other greens generated over the summer. I was storing them in bags myself (no fertilizer though) and eventually learned that if I left them out in the weather in a wire fence corral, they would start to decompose over winter. Then I mix them with greens when they become available in spring. and get compost faster. Not as fast as what you're describing, but it's one more way to do it.

I think the lime is optional, and in fact raising the pH can cause more ammonia to form, which is lost as a gas. I once overloaded a hot leaf/grass pile with wood ash and the ammonia smell was palpable. Lost a lot of nutrients. So moderation is the key there. And if your calcium is already high, soluble Ca can become excessive. My clay is limestone based and already neutral pH so I don't even add eggshells anymore, much less lime. Lime is not a universal panacea.

As for the quality of municipal compost: I have not seen data on a bunch of samples from different places that compared the quality of the end product. But I *have* looked at my own municipal compost compared to a dozen commercial bagged products plus my own homemade. The municipal compost was right in line with the median values on NPK, and was at or above median on micros (Fe, Mg, Mn, Ca, Cu etc.). Now, it can vary seasonally according to the inputs, how it's managed, and how long it's allowed to finish, but I disagree with whoever is saying all municipal compost is low in nutrients. Quite the contrary in my experience.

By the way, my own home made compost beat EVERYbody. :-D
Tox

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applestar
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Re: Best way to compost and the reason Why.

^There!^ Best reason to make your own and recycle kitchen and yard waste in the process :-()
Learning never ends because we can share what we've learned. And in sharing our collective experiences, we gain deeper understanding of what we learned.

imafan26
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Re: Best way to compost and the reason Why.

There are two kinds of composting. Aerobic and anaerobic. Both make compost and both generate heat. The end product of aerobic compost is neutral to alkaline depending on feedstock. Most of them lean more toward alkaline. Anaerobic composting is created by anaerobic organisms produce a more acidic compost. Adding calcium or lime when it is finished is probably o.k. as long as you do not go overboard. It helps to once in a while get the compost analyzed so you know how much lime or sulfur you want to add to get the compost leaning more toward neutral.

I have tested compost a couple of times. Since we generally have the same feedstock and make it the same way, it tests out similarly. The only times it was different was
The garden got a lot of seaweed and debris from an ocean clean up. It was dried but not washed. There was several cubic yards of it.
Too much of the seaweed was added to the compost. When it was tested, it was too saline. It took another year of leaching and adding more organic material to make it useable.

After christmas the garden and its partners mulched and composted leftover Christmas trees. A compost pile created of mostly one source material instead of several different kinds of source material took a lot longer to decompose. While pine needles are initially acidic they lot most of their acidity by the time they were shredded because they had been cut down and did not change pH very much.

However if we had used fresh pine needles or oak (we don't have oak trees here) or other fresh acidic source material, the compost would have started out more acidic than usual and would have more acid left in the end product if it were composted aerobically without adding lime.

The composition of all organic matter is highly variable that is why it is hard to get an exact NPK or other nutrient value without testing each batch. It all depends on the source material.

Most city composts are not composting really fresh leaves. In my city they only collect green waste twice a month so the "greens" are not necessarily that "green" anymore by the time it gets sent to the facility. Nitrogen is very volatile and it is the first thing to go. Unless the compost is fortified with other sources of nitrogen like manures, or ammonium nitrate, most of the remaining nitrogen gets consumed by the bacteria and fungi that decompose the waste to make compost.
The end product without fortification is usually low in nitrogen and mor alkaline in pH. If chicken manure was added to the compost, the nitrogen would have been used up, but the phosphorus and calcium would remain. The resulting pH could be even more alkaline. The same would be true if you added a lot of wood ash. Added calcium can make composts too alkaline for most plants if you are not careful.

The good thing is that there is a large variety of source material, the bad thing is, you don't really know what else was on that source material like pesticides and herbicides. Most of the pesticides legal for households would be gone, but some herbicides can persist more than a year and using composts with "extended" life might show up as herbicide damage on plants if you use alot of that compost in your soil.
Happy gardening in Hawaii. Gardens are where people grow.

toxcrusadr
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Re: Best way to compost and the reason Why.

I have thoughts about two specific points, imafan.

I have not composted anaerobically but acidity certainly seems plausible (as a chemist). My aforementioned tests of (presumably) aerobic composts yielded the following. pH in 13 samples ranged from 6.4 to 7.8, plus one outlier, a cotton burr compost that was 8.6 (never did learn why that was). My homemade compost was 6.42 and the median (not mean) of all 13 was 7.02, hardly 'leaning toward alkaline', more like 'distributed perfectly around neutral.' These products included 'composted steer manure', 'mushroom compost', various 'peat/humus/compost' combinations, and my own homemade was from yard waste and kitchen scraps. I'm having trouble buying 'aerobic = alkaline' based on these tests. I don't amend my compost piles or the resulting compost, it is just fine the way Ma Nature makes it IMHO.

Persistent herbicides are certainly a potential problem to be aware of, but more with manure based compost than anything else. Because they're eating hay treated with it and it passes through. Yard waste (which is what most municipal compost is made of) is not likely to have these persistent ones. Although they are licensed for use on lawns, that's by pros, not homeowners, and the stuff is not used universally by pros, so there can't be many grass clippings treated with them in the average municipal compost pile. Also the grass is then diluted with all the leaves, shredded limbs and other stuff. Not to get too fussy about it, I just didn't want to create more suspicion about municipal compost than there already is. If I was getting manure from cattle or horses that eat hay, I'd be asking what was used on the hay. As far as I know I've never had a problem with a bagged product containing manure, but it does happen.
Tox

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